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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

3 Orphans Convicted in Rampage

ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Three teenage orphanage residents received prison sentences of up to 12 years for killing two fellow orphans and four wardens during a night-long rampage that stunned Kazakhstan, a police spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Alexander Marshinin, whom the court determined initiated the crime, and Erbol Aitkenov -- both 16 years old -- were sentenced Tuesday night to 12 years. Kanat Seitenov, 15, was sentenced to 11 1/2 years, said police spokeswoman Nina Tsys.

All three teenagers will begin their sentences in a juvenile prison, she said.

The May rampage at the Pavlodar orphanage in northern Kazakhstan shocked the country, leading news reports nationwide and prompting widespread debate over the state of the country's underfunded, marginalized orphanage system.

Several of the 144 children living in the dilapidated facility had psychological problems, officials said. Many Kazakh orphanages, however, lack qualified medical personnel to deal with such problems. Many people also questioned how the children could have gotten hold of the knives used in the killings, or of the alcohol that fueled the crime.

During the trial, which began Sept. 20, the teenagers told police that after a night drinking, they attempted to kill one of their fellow orphans, Tsys said. No reason was given.

But during the commotion, adult workers and other children came to investigate. The teenagers said they then killed the witnesses. One orphan suffered multiple knife wounds but survived.

After the rampage, the teenagers broke into the orphanage's office and stole 900 tenge (about $6) from the safe. They then set fire to the office and fled the orphanage grounds, Tsys said.

The teenagers were caught early the next morning in a nearby forested area.

Immediately after their arrest, the teenagers told police a different story. According to officials, the trio said they hadn't intended to kill anyone but just wanted to scare their orphanage wardens in retaliation for not being allowed to listen to music and wander freely around the compound.

Orphanage workers, meanwhile, said that the teenagers had been drinking vodka and started fighting among themselves. The argument turned into a knife-fight, and they ended up killing workers who tried to stop them.

When police arrived at the scene, they found a note that said: "We killed seven people. We are three," according to police.

Relatives of the victims complained that the sentences were too light.